The tragedy we witnessed two days ago is an old, old story becoming far too commonplace in our character-deficient age. We live in a complicated, demanding world and there are too many among us who never developed the character resources to deal adaptively with life’s challenges – especially failure – and to profit from their experiences, including their disappointments. It’s far too easy to just point a finger. And sadly, for too many, it’s easier still to place that same finger on a trigger and shoot.
There’s actually method to the “pathological liar’s” apparent madness, and once you understand why some people simply prefer to lie – even when the truth would do just as well, you’ll have a better idea of what goes on in the mind of life’s most manipulative and seriously disturbed characters.
It’s one thing to think really highly – perhaps even too highly – of yourself and to be self-centered. But it’s quite another to view others with disdain or even contempt because, after all, they’re just not you. A pathological degree of grandiosity (i.e. malignant narcissism) is always at the root of bigotry.
Malignant narcissists don’t really need anyone nor do they particularly care about anyone other than themselves.
Misperceptions abound about why people commit serious crimes and eventually find their way into prison. Some of the misconceptions have been around a long time and persist despite mounds of evidence to the contrary.
Make no mistake, all of the defining characteristics of character disturbance (e.g., deficient empathy and conscience, sense of entitlement, penchant for manipulation and impression-management, etc.) are at work in anyone who sexually abuses.
Psychology needs to set aside our outdated, well-intended but purely speculative and unverifiable notions about who we are and why we do the things we do and build on the hard science we’ve acquired about our species and the natural world around us.
People use and abuse others with alarming frequency these days. It’s an outgrowth of the culture of narcissism – a culture that promotes at least indifference to if not outright disregard for the welfare of others.
The “smoothness” or social facility psychopaths display is generally not matched by congruent and concomitant emotion. They may have a very easy “way with words” (sometimes accompanied by equally charming nonverbal gestures), but usually their smooth talk is not accompanied by any emotion that matches what they’re saying or that can be sensed and felt by others as genuine.
In the absence of empathy, it’s impossible to form a functional, mature conscience, and in the absence of conscience, civilization cannot be sustained.